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“In France, the number of undocumented women who are pregnant or with young children on the street continues to grow”

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Prom a country’s human development indicators, those relating to perinatal health are among the most convincing. They measure, through the state of health of pregnant women and their newborns, that of the general population and the quality of the healthcare system. However, the recent report by Public Health France on perinatal health, which assesses its evolution since 2010, is alarming. It reveals, in a country known worldwide for the quality of its perinatal care, a selective degradation according to the territories and especially the populations.

In Ile-de-France, the case of foreign and undocumented women and their babies is extremely worrying. More generally, in France, the number of pregnant undocumented women or women with young children on the street is constantly growing. These women and their children, often of African and North African origin, are in danger. And us with.

Health services have been warning about the upsurge in infant mortality and maternity outings to the streets for a long time. In 2012, the Regional Agency of Ile-de-France pointed out, in the survey “Reduce infant and perinatal mortality”, the excess infant mortality in Seine-Saint-Denis: 4.8 ‰ against 3.2‰ in mainland France. One of the recommendations resulting from this work is the stabilization of accommodation for pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, at least in the third trimester of pregnancy and until the child is 6 months old. Focusing on reducing early health inequalities, the “First 1,000 Days of a Child” report (September 2020) pleads for an obligation of accommodation until its 2 years, prerogative of the departmental councils. But the situation is only getting worse.

Read also: In Paris, the singular sling of undocumented women

If the street women scandal has become “great regional cause” as of 2017, the latest report from Public Health France specifies that the proportion of homeless women who gave birth in Ile-de-France fell from 5.8‰ in 2010 to 22.8‰ in 2019. The most exposed are foreign women most recent arrivals. In 2020, 38.75% of pregnant women in very precarious situations supported by the Solidarité Paris Maman (Solipam) Ile-de-France perinatal health network, arrived in France between 2019 and 2020. This proportion rises to 67.5% if we take into account those who arrived since 2018.

Residential wandering

The case of Sonia is illustrative. Working, undeclared, as a dishwasher in a restaurant at the beginning of her pregnancy, she sleeps there to be on time at her workstation. At five months pregnant, exhausted, she contacted Solipam for help in her search for accommodation. Due to the shortage of places, professionals are helpless. Sonia experienced a course of residential wandering during the rest of her pregnancy, having to change hotels regularly, spending nights on the street. In Paris, her hospital doctor plans a caesarean section due to a high-risk pregnancy. A few days before, Sonia goes into labor. She is staying in a hotel 115 [SAMU social] in the Yvelines, where she gives birth, in an emergency, in a maternity hospital that she does not know, without the hospital team being able to have access to her medical file.

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